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HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 14 July 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This 3D Blu-Ray surround sound system is one of the new releases for 2012 from Sony. In the revised product line it's the second highest-spec system with only the Sony BDV-N 790 W above it. Essentially the two systems are the same with the exception that the N790 has wireless remote speakers.

So what do you get with this package? Well included is:

A Blu-Ray player with 3D functionality
The capability to play DVDs and upscale them improving sound and picture quality
A 5.1 surround sound system which includes a centre speaker, two front speakers, and two side/rear speakers. There's also a subwoofer
An FM radio with RDS
An inbuilt media player giving access to streamed video and music over the internet
Access to the web via an inbuilt browser
An iPhone/iPad dock (not pictured) which allows for content to be played from your iPhone, with the phone charging at the same time

This is a capable system that deals with some of the problems with surround sound systems. Most notably by combining a 3d blu-ray and sound system you have one less box to place by your TV. Further, as the system comes with 5 speakers plus the subwoofer you genuinely do get surround sound. My Sony TV is supposed to have virtual surround sound and frankly it doesn't work even when linked to a sound bar. I have yet to hear a reasonably priced front-speaker virtual surround sound system that works.

However, with this comes some of the problems with surround sound systems. Sony's promotion of the device says `Forget Cables' but you can't really. OK, the number of cables are reduced a bit by combining the blu-ray and sound system. They are also reduced by one cable by providing wireless internet access - so you don't need an ethernet cable between your modem and the box - this is the `forget cable(s)' Sony is talking about. You still have all the wired speaker cables - the real problem with surround sound systems, and presumably why people are keen to use 2.1 systems with virtual surround sound - to reduce clutter and cables. To be fair Sony does a fair bit to lessen the cable pain. The cables are very long especially for the rear speakers so you should be able to choose where to locate them without cables crossing the floor. For most rooms there's sufficient cable to go around the edge of the room. In addition the speakers are colour coded, as are the cables, with a bespoke socket to plug each cable in to the back of the main unit. I was keen on the wireless speaker option which comes with the N790. However, these aren't truly wireless as they come with a remote unit which has to be powered with cables linking this to the rear speakers. Another bonus is that the speakers can be wall mounted by unscrewing the base to each and repositioning it. But, unlike some other main units (which look very similar to the N590) this version can't be wall mounted which is a bit of a shame as it seems designed to do so.

On that design, the main unit has a curved top so nothing can be placed on top of it. You can place something under it but as it's an unusual size - quite long and thin - it likely won't sit well on top. For example the main unit is significantly longer than a Sky box. On the plus side all of the speakers are fairly small - and powerful at a total of 1,000w - and the subwoofer does not have it's own power supply reducing the need for power sockets and yet more cables.

In terms of functionality the 3D blu-ray is fully featured and works well. The system integrates with other Sony equipment and can be operated using one remote control for most functions if you have a Bravia TV. I tend to use the system whenever the TV is on and this is easy to set up, bypassing the TV speakers, with the speaker system being turned on and off with the TV. The system comes with a range of image enhancing technologies which will already be familiar to owners of event high-end TVs. In particular Sony aim to improve streamed video. I have a fast internet link so content streams easily but reducing bandwidth to experiment with the system indicates that picture quality is good even for slower internet connection. An enormous plus for those who don't have an internet smart TV is the range of streamed content available including Sony's own extensive range of films and music available for download (for a fee) together with Lovefilm and NetFlix, the latter only on 2012 Sony TV's and blu-rays as pre-2012 models are not hardware capable of running NetFlix. Also included is the BBC iPlayer and content from Channel 5. You can, in effect, update your existing TV, to a smart TV which is probably one of the most significant upgrades of television over recent years - notwithstanding 3D and HD.

There is a real danger of this review becoming the longest I have ever written so before concluding, let me highlight some of the weaker elements of the system. As noted it's not wireless and wires will still remain a big issue for many. The design of the system is new - it's not just a rectangular box - but it's limited as nothing can be placed on top and it's a bit long. While easy to set up - with colour coded cables and a microphone to automatically programme the system to know where the speakers are - there's no comprehensive manual included. You have to go online to access this and even then it's not completely comprehensive. For example, there are no instructions on how to connect a Sky box to the system which if you want 5.1 sound involves not just using a HDMI connection but a digital audio plug as well. Google it and you'll find the details. Since almost all users will want to link a Sky box this is a little remiss of Sony. And on cables, virtually none are included. You don't even get a HDMI cable to link the system to your TV, something that everyone will need. So you get speaker cables, and two cables to link the iPhone dock. That's it.

In conclusion, this system offers a good solution for many who want a slimmed down surround sound system. If you need to buy a blu-ray in particular, and don't have a surround sound system, choosing this makes a lot of sense. Equally if you want to stream content to your TV this is an excellent package and again I'd seriously look at the N590 rather than just getting a media streamer. An awful lot is jammed into this system which makes it a good investment. As a result 5 stars.
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on 7 July 2012
I had to return mine after two months I realised my centre speaker never worked, not even in movies in full 5.1 surround sound sources. I phoned Sony but their customer support is so bad, how am I supposed to take everything to a repair shop to get it looked at, at my expense, at least Cu*rys and C*met send an engineer out to your house. So phoned Amazon who replaced it but I returned that replacement for a refund due to Sony's customer support and other issues and got a Panasonic BTT590.

However, the sound on this system is very good, it's clear at full volume and the subwoofer does vibrate your room when explosions are heard/seen in films. The wires for the rear speakers are quite long, 10 metres I think, so you could take both wires around one side of your house instead of taking each wire individually across opposite walls of the room.

The few flaws of this system let it down, the display is impossible to see from sitting view, the system menus are rather slow compared to the PS3 XMB and you're not afraid to go to full volume. Few times the system would neglect to turn on when my TV was turned on and or it would crash when turning off.

The sound quality is very good but the options to alter sound settings are extremely limited, you can only change the decibel of each speaker and that's it.

Overall, its a great system for video and audio but the slow and clunky software lets it down along with the system display viewing angles.

Loses two stars for the 250W sub not being as powerful as you'd expect, the Panasonic BTT490/590 200W subs outperform the Sony's 250W, lack of sound options and annoying display angle. If you don't have a Sony TV and or don't mind not having a "all Sony" set up then I would go for the Panasonic BTT490/590, they're louder, a lot more options for sound and just better in every way except for the online functionality.
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on 29 December 2013
First off, another exemplary delivery from Amazon - why does anyone pay for fast delivery when that's often what you get anyway?

This arrived in its own Sony box without any extra "carrier protection" packaging but all was well on arrival. If you want to see what the box contains there's a You Tube vid showing the various bits. It made the speakers look bigger than they proved to be.

They're about ten inches tall, about four wide. And they sound pretty good. The main unit is also narrower to my eyes than some of the photographs suggest. Not sure if I like the odd top/side disc loading. If your cabinet is shallower than some, it could maybe make disc insertion a bit tricky. Sony pix show it sitting on top of a sideboard, but most folks' setups aren't like that. Just a small point but one that could prove a royal pain if your audio cabinet's upper shelf would encroach too closely above the disc unit.

The bass driver points its cone to the floor, is sited in the floor of its enclosure. Be careful when handling this big speaker unit as driver cones can be easily damaged. Thus far it does seem to deliver decent sound but the low grade of speaker cable used on all units is thin - not the grade I'd expect to find Sony using. The cable runs to the two rear speakers are longish, and it'd be interesting to find out what signal loss happens due to cable quality.

Setting up is like all one-box home cinema layouts, an hour or two fiddling with lots of cables and deciding where the speakers should sit to best advantage. Then setting up the speakers using the inbuilt self-calibration system that uses a small double mike (supplied) at the main seating postion. All straighforward stuff. After that's finished it's the main menu to get used to, and this is an odd horizontal strip with dedicated icons IDing main usage groups. Although odd to my eyes, it's easily enough navigated. The main interest points for me were the BBC iPlayer and Netflix. Initially I found a Lovefilm app and no Netflix app beside it - it was a notch or two to the left.

Mine wanted a software upgrade to be completed and wouldn't let me use some of the functions till this was done - as my net connection was extremely dicky due to post-xmas congestion I wasn't keen to carry this out in case the connection dropped out halfway through the process and I ended up with a dead box needing returned to Sony. I did some checking online and found it's possible to download the update and burn it to a CDR and use that inserted to the machine.

However I waited till the line was stable and let it go ahead and update itself. The process took maybe five minutes?

In use it's just great. This replaced a fairly low end LG cinema system I'd used for several years and it's entirely superior to it in every way - polish, design, performance. It's less loud overall than that 1000 watts rating might suggest - but these figures are often RMS which lets them use big numbers to sell units. A true kilowatt of sound would be far, far, louder than a normal domestic application could ever need - but even so, I'd expected a higher full whack output. Not that it's inadequate, it's not.

The sound quality is bright and lively, with depth from the large bass unit. By way of adjusting the sound quality there's a set of presets, which don't make hugely dramatic changes but provide some individual trimming to personal taste. Anyone used to using audio equipment is normally used to having a graphic equaliser or at least bass and treble tone controls - but not here. This is why I've deducted a star - this isn't bargain basement kit and deserves better sound control than they've given it.

The BR picture quality is very, very nice indeed. Bright and ultra crisp, clear and sharp with deep darks and a tone range that'd be very difficult to criticise effectively. Mine is hooked to a Sony 40 inch Bravia telly bought in 2009, so it's not state of the art by today's standards, which change so very fast. I can't comment on the 3D side of things as I have no compatible TV. For that to be upgraded will need the current TV to die first.

Early days yet. If anything else emerges I'll add an update later on.

14th Jan, 2014
About two weeks into using this now, here's an added point. It's the "browser"... this suggests to me that the development budget was already all used up when they designed this close-to-unusable piece of crapware. With a concept looking like it was added five minutes before the design deadline set by Sony-san was up. And never given any polish on the way to production. URLs must be entered a character at a time painstakingly using an onscreen "keyboard" of the worst sort. I think it'd be a safe bet to say this will remain the least used of the unit's features - unless Sony relents and updates this to a semi-usable version - but I won't be holding my breath for that one.

2nd Feb 2014
The unit decided another update was in order and went ahead without my say-so, and on the face of it this was completed successfully. HOWEVER I now find the BBC iPlayer app now regularly freezes on returning to its own menu after playing an item, which stubbornly refuses to budge despite the use of many buttons and profanity. To escape this lockdown, the unit needs a full shut down - which feels interminable given the time it takes for the player to go to sleep and stop flashing its blue glow at me. This is a PITA and had it done this from the start it would have been back to Amazon. So I have deducted a star from the original 4* rating - as Sony have issued a badly written update and put a jinx on my otherwise pretty good home cinema set. Oh yes, it has also now twice forgotten my Netflix password which has had to be re-entered - not a big thing with an ordinary keyboard, but see above notes on the browser use - for this you use the same ultra-clunky onscreen character-chart input system .I've let this go on now for over a week now in case somebody notices the glitch they've created and issue a corrective 3rd update. Thus far no joy, hence this rather angry footnote.

12th April 2014
I'm about ready to demand a return from Amazon on this - it's become very unreliable recently, with iPlayer seizures and fits & starts, then yesterday neither iPlayer nor Netflix could connect. Despite multiple resets of various sorts on this item and my router Netflix remains out of service. I can get it work on my Laptop so it's not Netflix at fault here, it's this BR unit. Its onscreen status shows both network and internet connections as perfectly healthy and established BUT - no Netflix. Sony's customer support is a total joke, not something I had expected - to me the Sony name meant quality products and quality support. Don't make the same mistake. You get fobbed off with standard "try turning it off and on again" type responses despite feeding them detailed queries.

Finding it hard to see this BDV-N590 as not fit for purpose, given that a core function has become unavailable to me. Unsure what Amazon's response will be, their month's return period is well up now, it's slightly over three months since it was bought. Taking off another star from this, I'm angry at this thing's recent performance.

December 2014, nearly a year since I bought this turkey of a BR/cinema unit. The BBC player mostly now behaving okay BUT the Netflix app has become more and more unreliable and today it won't load, leaving me with a blank screen after the system says the net content is ready. No amount of resetting the network (which is working just fine with this laptop) but I've done system resets, turned everything off and on again and I know if I contact Netflix's chat staff they'll be ever-cheery and tell me to - do a system reset, it's the only mantra known to them.

This unit continues to be a source of frustration - which it's been in varied ways since its first fortnight of service.

Even though this unit is now out of production (should have never gone INTO production) there are still lessons to be learned for buyers. IE ask yourself how important customer service after purchase is to you. Because it's of absolutely NO importance to SONY UK. I'm a long standing customer of Sony from their Trinitron TV days but that's been completely washed away by this experience.

As it's still inside its 12 month guarantee I'm going to pursue this with their service agents in Dundee in the hope it'll prove fixable under warranty.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 9 July 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Straight from the heavy and well packed box bedecked with every logo going this system oozes class and quality. The Blu-Ray player is a real looker and although not quite B&O cutting edge it does impress in a stretched PS3 kind of way and makes a refreshing change from the other boxy units out there. Setup was straight forward using the quick start guide, enjoyable even if you like you tech kit, have used a Sony TV/PS3 before and fancy being a sound engineer for U2. The amazon tech details saying "forget wires" is a bit misleading as its not the speakers that are wireless, just its connection to the internet so that's only one wire saved - unless you want to use the ethernet port of course. The speakers are not huge but beautifully made and certainly punch above their weight.

Once set up, the sound is fantastic, particularly for new release Blu Rays and gaming. DVD upscaling seems to work very well to notch up those old DVDs (remember them...?) too. Gunfire pings around the room and the sub really rumbles during those big explosions and car chases. The Euros really came to life for us too with this bit of kit although sadly it couldn't help with English penalty taking. It's a relief not to have to use my noisy PS3 for BluRays anymore however I still use it for BBC iPlayer/4OD etc as the controller and pointer is easier to use than a remote anyday. In fact a lot of people with smart TVs and consoles etc may find the internet facilities superfluous but they are there anyway. Can't comment on 3D (yet) and I don't/won't have an iPod but it's useful to have the dock for friends/rellies visiting.

Overall I'm very pleased with this system as it looks great and does everything I want really really well.
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on 29 October 2013
1= the picture is the best ever and was improved even more with a top quality lead , which does show that if you have a problem it is more likely the the rail tracks and not the train.
2= the sound blows you socks off i have played war of the worlds many times , but on this player it is out of this world, the bass is not over done like most surrounds, and being able to turn a stereo into 3d sound is great., the sound is crisp and clear and if you replay some of your old films in the 3d mode you will hear thing that you have not heard before.
3= the set up, it took about 4 hours to set up, as i had to add extra speaker wire, and try to understand the on screen instructions
but i am clueless on things like this, the player does so much i is mind blowing.
4= its big its black and its very heavy, but looks good.
5= i class this as one of the best items that i have ever bought
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VINE VOICEon 11 July 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The 590 offers a vast dynamic sound that truly turns your living room into a cinema. The system is extremely easy to setup and configure, in fact configuration is done automatically and very quickly giving you the best possible sound for where you'll be sitting. Tidying up wires is the only real hassle to installing the system.

Along with the speaker system comes a very PS3 looking 3D Blu-ray player. It's a large player, nothing like as sleek as Sony's stand alone models, but then it is also your surround sound unit. Getting the unit online is as easy as it comes and you get access to the usual Sony features (BBC Iplayer, 4OD, Netflix, LoveFilm).

When switched on the system automatically detects the surround sound system and switches my Bravia TV's speaker stand off. Once you're films loaded into the disk slot (similar to the PS3 disks are "sucked" in) you will have to play around with the volume to get to your ideal level. I started off turning Indiana Jones up quite loud, however once the action started I was amazed at how much punch this system has. Crashes really echo and reverberate, so be aware you may want to start at lower volumes and adjust accordingly.

For a system with smaller speakers (and not large upright front speakers) they can really handle themselves. The subwoofer is particularly impressive at giving you the low growl and rumble of an explosion or crash. At higher volumes you will definitely sit up and take notice. The rear speakers offer a large dynamic range and give you the full cinematic experience.

Video playback is excellent. Having tested out Gladiator on Blu ray it's about as good as it gets. Imagine the opening battle sequence but with all the crashes of swords, explosions from the Roman catapults reverberating as if you were there. The system handled the subtle scenes, street scenes and all out action perfectly. To say it gives films a new dimension would be an understatement. 3D is handled again to perfection. If you're looking for the full 3D experience you should be looking at surround sound as you don't want a 3D picture with a flat sound. The 590 gives you everything you need, bar the TV, to get going.

Additional features such as radio and an Ipod/phone dock are added extras but something I didn't see much use in including personally. I use a radio for the radio and sennhieser headphones for my music. However in testing them both worked very well, you also get the surround sound with your music, made especially good if you playing a SACD.

There's also a USB port to transfer data (videos, pictures) across to the system.
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VINE VOICEon 14 July 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I won't go into all the specifications of this system as the first reviewer does this very well (although revised slightly by the third reviewer)
This is not our first Surround Sound system but is much more stylish than the last. Having said that the Blu-Ray player itself is a strange shape - very like a PlayStation 3 but with a sort of dish/bowl shaped display/function panel added on the right-hand side which increases it size by 25% and as it is tilted back at about 75 degrees is quite hard to see from across a normal sized room .There is no front-facing display apart from a gently pulsing glow which reminds me of the visor on the robot (Gort) from The Day The Earth Stood Still (original). I read the first review saying that it is easy to set up - being colour coded - this is true unless,like myself,you are colour blind.I managed to get some connectors in the wrong sockets -but the unit actually tells you that you've got it wrong when you use the supplied microphone to calibrate your optimal speaker setup - which is a very nice feature.
Following the Quick Start Guide I connected the HDMI outs from my Sky box and Panasonic DDR (with Freeview) to the 2 inputs on the BDVN590 and it's HDMI output to my Sony Bravia TV. I then played a Blu-Ray disc only to find the audio out of sync with the picture and this was the same with the Sky and Panasonic box's and the TV.
The manual is pretty basic so after searching the Web (finding lot's of people complaining about the poor sync) we pinned it down to the A/V Sync setting - downloaded the PDF manual from Sony.co.uk and on page 28 there was the solution. Unfortunately by this time I had disconnected the HDMI inputs - attempting to use an optical cable to solve the problem - and because of this could not access the options feature of the BDVN590 - back to the `drawing board' - I reconnected everything again and was able - via the option button on the remote - to access the A/V Sync parameter. After trial and error we settled on a setting of 150 but, as far as I understand it, it depends on your particular TV's ability to process the video signal - which it does at a slower speed than the audio. Now it seems to work fine - I've got the Sub Woofer at as low a volume as I can get - relative to the other speakers (I think) and it still makes me worried about the neighbours complaining! The unit has several pre-set sound options but I tend to leave it on auto but `2 Ch.' and `night' are handy if your watching something that doesn't need the Full 3-D Surround treatment. It's a pity the speakers aren't wireless - but you can't have everything.
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on 26 September 2013
My old denon av500 went bang and I was forced into a quick purchase of a replacement. What HiFi recommendations have not failed me so far so I purchased the Sony BNV-N590.

Firstly the good. The sound is pretty OK for an all in one cinema system and the picture from even ordinary DVDs is fabulous. It found my Logitech squeezebox and streamed music perfectly. Unlike the Denon, the setup is easy and idiot proof.

What you shouldn't do is compare the sound to a proper separate hi fi system as you will find it somewhat lacking. The sound is distinctly brighter and less rounded. That said, for a cinema system, it is very good and sounds excellent with my Panasonic TV.

The worst part about the system is the proprietory speaker connections. I am sure that I am not the only person who has sunk speaker cable into the wall and decorated over it!! Even without this consideration, I doubt whether the cable length on the surround sound speakers would be sufficient for my living room. The only answer is to cut the speaker cable and splice the Sony connectors onto your own cable. Not the easiest of jobs when the Sony cable is very thin (poor quality) and not marked at all (you have to trace it back from the marked connection on the connector). I used standard electric block connectors and the end result is fine. It just took some time doing it. At least Sony provide some decent sound diagnostics to ensure that your speaker set up is OK.

Unfortunately a lot of manufacturers (Samsung , Panasonic) have now gone down this proprietory connection route so an alternative product may also have this fault. It would be useful for What HIFi to highlight this so readers know.

I would also concur with the reviewer who highlighted that you cannot see the front panel when sitting down. Fortunately you don't need this information that often but it is not very easy to see

The other word of warning is that Amazon only sell region 2 DVD players and not all region DVD players. I purchased an all region DVD player from the Amazon marketplace at the same cost as directly from Amazon
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on 1 December 2013
The 1st one sent out broke after a week, the picture juddered!! Amazon were great and sent a replacement. So far so good, sound and picture great. Will be even better when I get a new monster 3d television!! But don't tell the wife!!! Only one niggle, I have it in a entertainment unit and was tricky to get the DVD player in and can't see the slot at the side, but I'll live! Great value for money with big noise and mint picture! Go on buy it!!!
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on 6 February 2013
At £300 it's saved me a fortune, I was looking at separates at near £2k but couldn't decide, & glad i didnt.. sound awesome for the price, best bit it links to my Sony flat tv that had not the best speakers as standard.
Had to purchase a £4 toslink or infra red fibre optic lead to enable full functions.. Would have thought instructions would have been clearer on just what lead to buy..
But well happy thanks.
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